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Pussy Riot Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

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Pussy Riot, otherwise known as three anti-Putin Russian women, were sentenced to two years in prison today for “hooliganism”. Their offense? Standing in Moscow’s Christ The Savior Cathedral and staging a performance of a “punk prayer” against the Prime Minister.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina held up the sheet of paper with their sentence on it today almost proudly, seemingly saying in a symbolic way that they aren’t scared. ‘Do to us what you will,’ their eyes say, ‘But don’t expect us to bow down to you.’

It’s hard to say what the reaction would be if a similar stunt was pulled here in America, or what the punishment would consist of, because there are many factors involved here: political, religious, criminal. And while the women have many celebrities–as well as ordinary citizens–in their corner, some are wondering if perhaps the punishment fits the crime.

While I definitely disagree with how this was handled and the penalties these women face is there any question that rushing into a church during services and performing an impromptu, vulgar, concert should result in some sort of criminal charges? In this country it would probably result in a fine, but reading reports of the incident it seems relatively clear that the band committed a number of minor crimes (trespass, public disturbance, ect), one commenter wrote on Gawker.

One aspect of the case that has many upset is how the women have been treated since their arrest; adequate food and rest have reportedly been denied over the past seven months, for example. And now that the sentence has been handed down, it’s certain to cause an uproar among those who support the protesters.

In a statement to the public, Tolokonnikova wrote:

Katya, Masha and I are in jail but I don’t consider that we’ve been defeated. Just as the dissidents weren’t defeated. When they disappeared into psychiatric hospitals and prisons, they passed judgement on the country. The era’s art of creating an image knew no winners or losers…I would like you to think carefully about the following reflection by Montaigne from his Essays written in the 16th century. He wrote: “You are holding your opinions in too high a regard if you burn people alive for them.” Is it worth accusing people and putting them in jail on the basis of totally unfounded conjectures by the prosecution?

Image credit: artist Molly Crabapple

Pussy Riot Sentenced To Two Years In Prison
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